May Day – London 2012

CPGB-ML comrades assembled in Clerkenwell to take part in this years May Day celebrations.

On this day, millions across the world have taken to the streets ever since 1889, when the first congress of the Second International declared 1 May as International Workers’ Day. This day was initially chosen to honour the American workers’ triumphant strike for the eight-hour day on 1 May 1886 and as a homage to those gunned down by the Chicago police as well as their leaders – Albert Parsons, August Spiers, Adolph Fischer, George Engel, Michael Schwab, Samuel Fielden and Louis Lingg – who were condemned to death for their leadership of the strike and declared “guilty of murder” (policemen also died when they attacked the assembled protesters in Haymarket Square). One hundred and twenty years later, the echo of Spiers’ words from the gallows must continue to remind us of our strength: “There will be a time when our silence will be more powerful than the voices you strangle today.”

The strength and power of the working-class movement has been demonstrated all over the globe ever since. May Day has become an occasion when we celebrate our achievements, express international solidarity and reaffirm that socialism is the way forward for humanity. With the establishment of socialism in the USSR and its historic victory over Nazi fascism, millions of toiling people have been inspired to fight for a better life.

From the storming of the Winter Palace in 1917 to the victorious end of the anti-fascist war, when the red flag was raised on the Reichstag in Berlin in 1945, the flying of the red flag with its hammer and sickle has been indelibly linked to the achievements of our movement and is a symbol of progressive humanity. Whereas internationally, from east to west, from Asia to South America, red flags have dominated May Day, in the imperialist heartlands, far fewer are seen, as our historic day has been hijacked as a ‘spring holiday’ and drained of all revolutionary fervour by the dominance of the social-democratic leadership. It is time that socialists in Britain reclaimed the day, increased our symbolic use of the hammer and sickle, proudly declared our communist ideals and explained that communism is still the only way forward for humanity.

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